Bamboo is a great alternative to hardwoods. Unlike hardwoods which take between 60 to 120 years to reach maturity, bamboo can be harvested in 4 to 6 years. Bamboo is not a wood. It is a grass and yet it is strong and durable like a hardwood. For this reason, bamboo is a renewable resource that is an ideal replacement for hardwoods. Strand woven bamboo flooring is also 50% cheaper than typical hardwood flooring.

Wood hardness is measured using the Janka Hardness Rating System. This system measures the pound per inch density of a specified type of wood flooring. The higher the density rating the harder the wood flooring is to indent or gouge. Strand woven bamboo flooring has a Janka Hardness Rating of 3000 PSI which makes strand woven bamboo flooring twice as hard as oak.

There are four stages to making strand woven bamboo flooring. First mature 'moso' bamboo stalks are cut. Secondly, the stalks are boiled to remove the sugars from the bamboo. It is necessary to remove the sugars because sugar is a termite attractant. Thirdly, the bamboo strands are allowed to dry. And fourthly, the bamboo strands are pressed together and flattened under pressure. An adhesive or glue is added during the final stage of the process. The result is that you are left with a plank of bamboo which is nearly twice as dense as normal bamboo flooring. The other benefit of pressing or compacting bamboo into planks is that all of the bamboo is used. There is no waste involved in the process. After the bamboo has been compressed it resembles landscape timber and can be cut like regular timber into planks. Strand woven bamboo is usually cut into 6" long planks. These planks are then milled so all four sides of each plank are tongue and groove. This allows the planks to slide into each other and join together perfectly.

One of the major choices when deciding to put hardwood or bamboo flooring in a room is to choose the style of the flooring. The bamboo planks can be either layed across the width of the room (horizontal flooring) or down the length of the room (vertical flooring).

There are three ways to install strand woven bamboo flooring. This makes bamboo flooring very versatile and suitable for DIY installation. The first way to install strand woven bamboo flooring is to directly glue it to a sub-floor. The second way to install the flooring is to simply lay it on an existing sub-floor or thin foam mat, in otherwords, a floating installation. The third method of installation is to nail or staple the strand woven bamboo flooring to the sub-floor.

When strand woven bamboo flooring is in place it has an attractive appearance with a beautiful natural grain showing. It looks clean and solid and natural, very much like oak flooring. It is possible to get strand woven bamboo flooring in various hues - some are lighter and some are darker.

Strand woven bamboo floorings come in several colors and styles including rustic, ebony, tiger stripe, cocoa, burgundy, natural and carbonised. The carbonised color is a darker more brown hue than the light natural hue. Carbonised means that the strand woven bamboo plank is treated with heat and steam which melts the remaining sugars in the bamboo and caramelizes the sugar producing a darker richer color. The great thing about carbonised solid strand woven bamboo flooring is that it can be sanded again and again without losing its color because the color is all the way through the strand woven bamboo. This makes carbonised strand woven bamboo flooring easier to maintain than regular hardwood flooring that needs to be treated and coated after a sanding. On the downside, the carbonizing process reduces the strength of the strand woven bamboo. In some cases the strength can be reduced by 30%.

Another important thing to consider before committing to a particular brand of strand woven bamboo flooring is to consider the adhesive that has binded the strands of bamboo together. There is no industry standard for this. The best adhesive is VOC free. Namely without 'Volatile Organic Compounds', the worst of which, in this case, is formaldehyde. Bamboo Mountain do formaldehyde free strand woven bamboo flooring. If the room is well ventilated and the floor sealed it is not normally a problem. Care should, however, be exercised with children. VOCs and particularly formaldehyde, in flooring, furniture and paint can cause allergies in later life. For more about VOCs. While on this topic Columbia Forest Production do an adhesive which is soy based and VOC free. They use the VOC free adhesive on the binding for the production of plywood. Which is perfect if you need to install a wooden subfloor before installing your strand woven bamboo flooring.

Another important factor to consider when looking at various types of strand woven bamboo flooring is the lacquer that is used. Often the cheaper varieties of strand woven bamboo flooring are coated with an inferior lacquer. The best lacquer available is made by Klumpp. Klumpp lacquer is an extremely hardwearing aluminum oxide which will add years to the life expectancy of the flooring. Ask suppliers what type of lacquer has been applied to the strand woven bamboo flooring. Often the length of the floor warranty will provide you with a clue as to the lacquer that has been used. Naturally, the longer the warranty the stronger the strand woven bamboo is.

If you have a pet dog or cat you might be concerned about installing a strand woven bamboo floor in a room which your pet inhabits. You needn't be. Strand woven bamboo is very strong and able to deal with the rough and tumble of dogs, especially big dogs, as well as hardwood floors. It is not easy to scratch a strand woven bamboo floor but not impossible. Therefore, it is recommended that you regularly clip your dog or cat's nails. A vet or a pet groomer can give you advice on suitable clippers and how to best clip nails. The other thing you can do is to lay down rugs or runners to allow the pet access to all its usual routes across the house. These runners are useful for older dogs who are less sure on their feet because it allows their paws better purchase and will stop them slipping. As one last measure to pet proof your strand woven bamboo flooring it is possible to put vinyl protectors over a pet's nails to stop scratching.

From a pet's point of view, strand woven bamboo flooring is a good choice because it is allergen free unlike carpets that not only build up with pet hair but also harbour allergens that can affect the health of your pet. The antibaceterial properties of strand woven bamboo flooring also kill bacteria that could harm your pet.

Strand woven bamboo flooring has all the benefits of hardwood flooring. Namely, it is attractive looking and natural looking. It is easy to clean and maintain and most importantly, it is free from allergens. This makes strand woven bamboo flooring suitable for people who require hypo-allergenic surroundings. And yet strand woven is 50% cheaper than hardwood flooring. When you install strand woven bamboo flooring you are not contributing to the destruction of rain forests. Instead you are being environmentally friendly.